TARDIS Technical Index


TARDIS interior”That is the dematerializing control, and that over yonder is the horizontal hold, up there is the scanner, those are the doors, and that is a chair with a panda on it. Sheer poetry, dear boy. Now please stop bothering me.” -The Doctor

In 1983 The Doctor Who Technical Manual by Mark Harris was published. This was the first piece of Doctor Who merchandise to fall into my 10-year-old hands. It opened up the world of "Who" to me. The chapter titled "Who is the Doctor?" answered many questions I had about the time traveller who had graced my screen for a little over a year. I immediately set about constructing my own TARDIS console out of a large sheet of Styrofoam and several broken typewriters. This interest in the "science" of science fiction eventually led me to a Bachelor's Degree in Physics.

Despite the cancellation of the TV series, my interest in the Doctor and his travelling machine continued to thrive and grow. I now have what is quite possibly the largest collection of Doctor Who merchandise in all of Fairbanks, Alaska. And while I appreciated the enormous amount of effort that had been spent to document and catalogue every aspect of the Doctor's life (both on screen, in print, and on CD), I realized that the Doctor's most stalwart and constant companion had been neglected - the being upon which the series' entire premise rested, that is, the TARDIS. It is for this reason that I have attempted to analyse the TARDIS as if it were a real phenomenon. I do this not to provide a definitive vision of the TARDIS but to showcase the amazing amount of creativity and inspiration that went into a simple police box. It is my hope that this site will serve not as a continuity straight jacket but as a springboard for more creative and unique ideas in the world of Doctor Who.

In this Index I have attempted, to the best of my abilities and resources, to catalogue all the major and minor systems that have been "revealed" to us over the last 30 plus years. Resources include the TV series, novels (Target, Virgin, and BBC) and the audio dramas. I realize that "canon" can be a touchy issue to some fans, and I would like to assure you that if I inadvertently left out your favourite TARDIS gadget or capability, it was not because I did not consider it worth of inclusion but simply because I lacked access to the complete range of Who sources. To maximize usability I've designated each source with a different font colours (see the Colour Key). The reader is then free to ignore the sources he doesn't agree with if he so desires. Above all, as you investigate this text keep in mind the many people whose hard work and ingenuity are responsible for these ideas and concepts. They pushed the TARDIS beyond a police box and beyond a simple time machine and into the realm of uniqueness.


TARDIS exterior"Let me get this straight. A thing that looks like a police box, standing in a junkyard - it can move anywhere in time and space?"
-Ian Chesterton

TARDISes are the space and time travel ships of the Time Lords of the planet Gallifrey. Capable of dematerializing from their current location and rematerializing on any planet in the universe and at any point in that planet's history, the TARDISes are in many ways the heart of the Time Lords' technology and culture. The name TARDIS is an acronym that stands for Time And Relative Dimension(s) In Space, and the word Tardis means Time-Ship. The plural of TARDIS is still debated by Time Lords but for the purposes of this paper will be written TARDISes.

As its name implies, a TARDIS is a machine for investigating Time and Relative Dimensions In Space. As such they are primarily used as research platforms for gathering historical data about the universe. TARDISes are specifically designed to never change history. As such they can blend in to their environment by changing their exterior appearance. They can appear as a tree, a door, or (in one particularly infamous instance) a Metropolitan Police Telephone Box. Regardless of their exterior size their interior is a vast array of corridors, control rooms, living quarters, and storage rooms capable of holding thousands if necessary. This apparent discontinuity in interior versus exterior size is achieved by making the exterior doors of the TARDIS a dimensional gateway to a micro-universe. Since the interior isn't located anywhere near the exterior a TARDIS is immune to almost any external attack.


I'd like to thank all the friends and friends of friends who helped me with this project. First and foremost is my wife Holly, who served as the perfect representation of my target audience, by reading the whole thing to me over a long distance phone line just so I could see what she did and didn't grock. Thanks go to Stephen Gray for converting it to a webpage and hosting it on his wonderful site, and to Matt Durrant, who created a wonderful cover for the second draft and for his proofreading work. I'd also like to thank Craig Hinton and the other reviewers: The Other Chris, Carter, Anna Swift, and Sam Travis. The people at Continuity Cops and New Apocrypha Yahoo Groups for being a sounding board and asking me when I was going to release the Index - thanks everybody! TARDIS Technical Index banner by www.nervagraphics.co.uk

Chapters List

  • The Life of a TARDIS: This chapter gives an overview of the growth and construction of a new TARDIS and covers their social life and death rituals.
  • Navigation Systems: This section discusses the mechanics and physics of space-time travel, and gives an overview of the various flight options a TARDIS is capable of. Those wishing to see a detailed discussion of the effects of changing history should see Appendix 2: Temporal Physics.
  • Guidance Systems: Here one will find information of the control systems used by the Time Lord operator to guide a TARDIS.
  • Drive Systems: The focus of this chapter is on the power and propulsion systems of a TARDIS.
  • Environmental Systems: This chapter serves as an overview of a TARDIS's multidimensional nature and crew support systems.
  • Defensive Systems: The defensive mechanisms, both passive and active, are detailed in this chapter.
  • Other TARDIS Systems: This catch-all chapter covers systems that don't fall under the preview of other chapters
  • Storage Rooms: A partial list of the many types of rooms contained within a TARDIS can be found here.
  • Types of Time Travel Capsules: A history of TARDIS development with details on several types of TARDIS.
  • TARDIS Refits: A description of the capabilities of each TARDIS Refit. Presents the many optional systems, both legal and illegal that an operator can install in a TARDIS.

Color Key

The following color code is used:

  • Black: For information from the TV Series, including Dimensions in Time, and 1996 TV Movie.
  • Blue: For information from the Novels and Audios including Target, Virgin, BCC, and Big Finish.
  • Green: For information from 'licensed' reference sources such as the Technical Manual, Doctor Who Magazine, and the Role Playing Games.
  • Red: For information from unofficial sources -The Faction Paradox series, behind the scenes interviews, author's speculation, and popular fan belief.
  • The TARDIS Technical Index is copyright Will B Swift.

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